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Martin Luther King Jr.'s
"I Have a Dream"

Martin Luther King's

Martin Luther KingThe Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. first became a prominent voice in the Civil Rights movement in 1955, when as a new pastor in Montgomery, Alabama, he agreed to head the Montgomery Improvement Association. The organization was formed to coordinate the Montgomery bus boycott, fomented by the arrest of Rosa Parks for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white person. King was the primary representative for the group during the boycott, and was able to succeed by using protest strategies that involved mobilizing the African-American community through their churches and utilizing the nonviolent protest methods of Indian civil rights activist Mahatma Gandhi.

March on Washington buttonAs Civil Rights protests spread throughout the deep South and eventually the nation, King continued to combine peaceful methods of protest and his theological training to work toward the goal of equal rights for African Americans, as well as for the impoverished. On August 28, 1963, King participated in the march on Washington, where 250,000 black and white people Rallied in support of the civil rights bill that was pending in Congress. Near the end of the day at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. made his now-famous "I Have a Dream" speech (Audio 5:43). His words echoed the Bible, the Constitution, and the National Anthem, expressing his hope that his dream of equality for all people would someday come true.

The text from the poster Martin Luther King Jr. by Peter Gee comes from King's February 4, 1968, sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church, his home church in Atlanta, Georgia. In the sermon, King spoke of how he wanted to be remembered after his death. Months later, in early April 1968, the same words were used to eulogize King after his untimely death.

To learn more about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his work on-line, visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project at Stanford University.

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